inspired by bánh mì…and Sacramento…

Our little family had been on the California tour for the past month or so, and we were lucky enough to have friends and family at each of our destinations.  I feel so grateful to have been able to cook with my sister in law, bake zucchini bread with my nephew (this is not your mama’s zucchini bread mind you, and I will post the recipe and story shortly), been part of a traditional Swedish Christmas Eve dinner-snaps and all, to have cooked for my daughter’s first Christmas, and fine dining at a friend’s home in Sacramento.

In Sacramento, we were graciously hosted by some friends who are amazing for so many reasons; fun, food, and furniture being three of those reasons…you should definitely give them a look: Aside from being decorated impeccably, their place boasts a warm glow that makes you feel immediately at home. I could have spent the whole weekend sitting in their kitchen, drinking wine, flipping through cookbooks, and chatting while they cooked.  This is what you get to eat when you visit them…

And this is how their home feels…

While drinking wine and flipping through cookbooks, I stumbled across a recipe for bánh mì. Bánh mì is a sandwich that originated in Vietnam during the French colonial era, during which, eating and doing like the French carried a certain cachet.  Prior to this French influence, bread in Vietnam had been food for those who could not afford rice. Over time, this sandwich evolved from European vegetables and sauces on baguettes, to a melding of Vietnamese flavors.  As this food fashion found its way through the streets of Saigon, these transformed versions of the sandwich were sold from motorized tricycles and were called xe bánh mì or literally, “vehicle selling bread”. This sandwich has all the feel of street food, but is so unique in its fusion of flavors that you can serve it to guests with a bowl of soup or a salad, and have quite the impressed audience. Traditionally this sandwich is served with barbequed pork and a pâté of sorts. There are also traditional vegetarian versions made with egg, but I liked the texture and earthy quality of the tempeh. However, I find the meat less important than the careful use of flavors and spice. And, I must say this sandwich is all about the beautiful sweet, crunchy baguette…so splurge and buy a good one.

inspired by  bánh mì…

1 sweet French baguette


fresh cilantro leaves for topping


1 packet tempeh

handful buckwheat soba noodles

1 small shallot

1 tbs soy sauce

1 tbs clover honey/agave nectar

1/2  tsp brown sugar

vegetable oil for pan

pickled vegetables:

2 carrots, peeled and julienned

1 daikon radish, peeled and julienned

½ jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced into coins

½ cup rice vinegar

2 tbs sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

chili mayonnaise:

4 tbs mayonnaise

1 tbs chili paste/sauce (I used Sriracha)

½ tsp fresh ginger, minced or shredded

honey/agave nectar to taste

pinch of salt

Mix together rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.  Allow sugar and salt to dissolve. Add carrots, daikon, and jalapeño. Let stand for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to broil.  Cut baguette into sandwiches sized portions, slice in half lengthwise. Butter each piece and place in the oven until light brown and toasted.  Don’t skip this step, the butter keeps the bread nice and crunchy. Remove and let cool.

In a small pot, boil water and add soba noodles, cook until al dente.  Rinse in cold water, set aside.  In an oiled pan over medium heat, add crumble tempeh and sliced shallot.  Cook until lightly toasted.  Stir in soba noodles.  Add soy sauce, honey/agave, and sugar.

Mix together ingredients for chili mayonnaise.

Assemble sandwich with mayonnaise on both sides, tempeh mixture, pickled vegetables and jalapeño, and then a handful of cilantro.

The next day I also  had the filling inside a butter lettuce cup, I missed the bread, but it was a nice light option.

Thank you Stefan and Erin for your suggestions and for a wonderful stay in Sacramento!

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


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